The Co-op has unveiled plans to open about a dozen new food stores in Scotland this year as part of a £200 million UK-wide investment that will see it launch 100 brand new sites altogether and create 1,500 jobs.
The retailer has about 350 food stores in Scotland and more than 6,500 employees, and also aims to overhaul in excess of 30 further stores north of the Border in the next 12 months.
This means 40-plus new or improved Co-op outlets launching in Scotland in 2019 including sites in Alford, Banchory, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Forres, Galston and Glasgow.
The plans come as the Co-op seeks not only to open 100 new sites as it builds on its convenience strategy, but provide major makeovers for a further 200.
And it expects its combined £200m store investment programme – which is designed to “get closer to its members and customers, what they want, need and care about” – potentially creating about 1,500 new local jobs.
Around a third of the community retailer’s new stores are planned for London and the South-east, and at least ten are set to launch in Wales.
The retailer in September 2016 rejuvenated its brand, and since then has seen its active membership grow to 4.65 million, including almost 550,000 in Scotland.
The planned expansion follows the opening of its £6m distribution centre last year at Inverness Airport Business Park. The new Dalcross facility is now servicing the Co-op’s large network of stores in the region, and will also facilitate future store expansion plans across the Highlands and islands of Scotland.
One of the organisation’s largest investments is the £3.4m injection to overhaul its petrol filling station and food store in Broadford, Skye, which is expected to conclude in late March, while it also plans to open its new Glasgow store in Bothwell Street in the second half of the year.
And it has agreed terms on a planned £45m, 661,000 square-foot distribution depot located just off the A1 in Bedfordshire to support growth in and around the M25 belt.
Stuart Hookins, Co-op’s director of portfolio and development, said: “Shifts in consumer shopping trends has seen ease, speed and convenience continuing to rise in importance for time-pressed shoppers.
“The right location and range tailored to fulfil the shopping needs of a community is a cornerstone of our approach, and there has been an evolution in how we choose new locations and, innovate our offer.
“This year, will be the fourth consecutive year of opening around 100 new stores, and investing in a core convenience estate that has seen over four years of consecutive like for like sales growth.”
He also highlighted its strategy to focus on looking for new sites that support our ambition to operate at the heart of local life, and deliver our value and values which make a difference in our communities”.